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Verreaux's Eagle

Aquila verreauxii


75 - 96cm

1.8 - 2.1m

3 - 7 kg

15 - 20 yrs





The Verreaux’s eagle (Aquila verreauxii) is a large bird of prey species found primarily within Africa, where it is known locally as the black eagle (not to be confused with the similar Indian black eagle, Ictinaetus malaiensis.) It is generally considered the sixth largest eagle species by length, as well as the seventh heaviest. It is a closely related cousin of the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).

Least Concern




As its African nickname suggests, the “black eagle” is mostly black in colour. However, perhaps its most defining feature is a shock of white forming a V-shape across the back and upper tail (which the otherwise similar-looking Indian black eagle lacks.) It has fully-feathered legs like other members of Aquila, such as the golden eagle.

What Does it Look Like?


What Does it Sound Like?


Similarly to other large eagle species, the Verreaux’s eagle is mostly silent, but does appear to be more vocal than others. The contact or alarm calls are a shrill “keeooo-keeooo” or “whaee-whaeee” and it has also been described as making clucking sounds not unlike a young turkey. It can also produce harsher, more guttural sounds, often used as a warning.


The Verreaux’s eagle has one of the most targeted diets of its kind, consisting mostly of just two species – the Cape and rock hyraxes – making up a staggering 90-99% of all prey consumed in some populations. The eagles fly in low over rocky terrain, attempting to catch the hyrax by surprise. Hares, meerkats and small antelope may also be taken..

What Does it Eat?


Where Does it Nest?


The nest is built from branches by a crevice atop a cliff ledge, such as on a rocky kopje. The most common clutch size is two eggs, with incubation taking between 6 and 7 weeks. The chance of the eldest sibling killing the youngest is almost certain, but the remaining chick has a high rate of survival. It is usually fully fledged within 3 months.


It is found along the southeastern African continent, from Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, as well as Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania in the east. It lives around the kopjes (dry, rocky hills), which is the main habitat of hyraxes. In fact, its range almost exactly mirrors both the cape and rock hyraxes, further showing their dependency.

Where Does it Live?


What is its Status?


There are no accurate estimates of the population, but it is thought to be in the tens of thousands and relatively stable. This also applies to the hyrax, which seems to be coping well – however, since they are sometimes hunted for food and pelts, a number of local declines have been recorded in the nearby eagle population in areas with higher human activity.

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